recipe: grandpa’s potato-leek soup.

first of all, i want to thank everyone who made my grandpa’s tortellini soup that i posted a couple of weeks ago. it warmed my heart to see people loving his recipe and keeping his spirit alive through cooking. that’s why we pass down recipes, and i’m so thankful to be able to share these with all of you!

last week i asked the wise people of facebook and twitter what soup i should make next out of his cookbook. the overwhelming response was for this one, potato-leek soup, also known as vichyssoise (pronounced vishy-swah). pumpkin soup came in at a close second, so for all you pumpkin lovers, get ready for that one in a week or two!

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this recipe is one of the easiest soups i’ve ever made. if you don’t count the seasoning and the garnish, there are literally only four ingredients. FOUR! i mean, even if cooking scares you, you can handle four ingredients, can’t you? i think you can, you’re the best!

one of the best parts of grandpa’s cookbook is that on many of the recipes, he adds a note. most of them talk about where he first found the recipes, and some of the good memories attached to it. and don’t we all have those notes for the food we make? we all remember the first meal we cooked for a dinner party or significant other, or the recipe that our mom passed down to us, or even the one you randomly found online and never stopped making because it was so good. grandpa wrote his memories down for us, so we can add those to the memories we make with his recipes. i’ll be sharing these notes at the bottom of a recipe when grandpa included one.

making this soup was extra-special for me because both my sister and my cousin stopped by while i was cooking, and we got to talk about grandpa and remember when he made certain soups for us. i’d forgotten eating a lot of these when i was little, and their memories helped jog mine. if i had any doubts about working my way through this cookbook, they’re gone after making this one.

if you’ve never had potato-leek soup, you might be like “wtf erin?! you want me to eat soup made of potatoes and onion-type things??” just trust me on how good this is. potato-leek soup is a creamy soup, with a light flavor of potato and leek, but it’s not too onion-y. it’s incredibly easy to eat, and best served with some crusty bread to dip in it. i hope you enjoy it as much as we did!

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potato leek soup6potato-leek soup (aka vichyssoise) makes a large pot of soup, enough to serve 4-6 and freeze half

  • 4 C. potatoes, peeled and coarsely chopped (i used six medium potatoes, because i wanted it thicker)
  • 3 C. leeks (white part plus 2 inches of green), thinly sliced (note: you can also substitute 3 C. thinly sliced onions)
  • 2 qt. fresh chicken stock or chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 C. heavy cream
  • 3 T. fresh chives or parsley, finely chopped

in a heavy, 6-qt. saucepan or soup kettle, simmer the potatoes, leeks, chicken broth and salt partially covered for 40-50 minutes or until the vegetables are tender. use an immersion blender to blend the vegetables until the soup is smooth. you can leave some potatoes and leeks whole, at your preference. (if you don’t have an immersion blender, you can transfer the soup into a blender and blend it smooth, then transfer it back into the pot. caution: be careful when transferring hot liquids!) [note: grandpa’s original recipe said to “force the soup through a food mill or sieve into a large bowl and then pour back into the pot.” thank goodness for electric blenders, huh?]

season the soup with salt and pepper, and stir in the cream. before serving, return the soup to a simmer. ladle into a soup tureen or  individual soup bowls. serve garnished with fresh chives or parsley, and with some hot, crusty bread. this soup can also be served chilled.

note from grandpa: “we first served this soup on new year’s eve in the early 1960s after acquiring the Time Life International Cook Book series. we all enjoyed it so much that from that point forward, it became a tradition and always appears on our new year’s eve dinner menu.”

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